As the world becomes increasingly digital, older adults are finding new and engaging hobbies online. Over 80% of Americans are pursuing hobbies using the internet. Digital engagement allows seniors to explore various hobbies — from virtual book clubs to digital art classes. This shift toward online hobbies has opened new doors for seniors looking for ways to stay active, challenged, and connected with others. With a wide variety of activities and resources, online hobbies are an excellent place for seniors to explore and grow.
Making the most of online hobbies
Online hobbies can be a fulfilling experience, here are some tips to enhance it even more.
- Keep an open mind about trying new things and exploring different hobbies
- Take advantage of the resources available online to learn new skills or techniques
- Consider joining relevant online communities that align with your interests and preferences. This will provide a space for discussing hobbies, sharing insights, and making new friends
Empowering Seniors Online: A Guide to Family-Centric Cybersecurity Measures
“In the new year, let’s discuss how ensuring a worry-free online hobby experience for older adults involves proactive cybersecurity measures and how family members or caregivers play a pivotal role in safeguarding their loved ones against potential risks. With various avenues that scammers exploit, especially targeting the senior population, here are a few suggestions to help families protect their elderly members from cybersecurity breaches:
1. Education and Awareness: Educate older adults about potential risks:
- Phishing: Teach them to identify suspicious emails or messages requesting personal information.
- Passwords: Stress the importance of creating strong, unique passwords for each account.
2. Identity Protection: Emphasize the significance of safeguarding personal information:
- Online Privacy: Advice against sharing sensitive details like social security numbers online.
- Privacy Settings: Guide them in setting accurate privacy controls on social media accounts.
3. Secure Devices and Accounts: Ensure their devices and accounts are protected:
- Software Updates and Antivirus: Encourage regular updates for devices to reduce vulnerabilities and install reputable antivirus software to prevent malware.
4. Safe Online Practices: Foster safe browsing habits:
- Avoid Suspicious Links: Discourage clicking on unfamiliar or suspicious links.
- Trusted Websites: Encourage visits only to trusted websites with secure, encrypted connections.
5. Online Purchases: Ensure safe online shopping:
- Reputable Retailers: Encourage shopping only from well-known and secure online stores.
- Secure Payments: Emphasize using secure payment gateways and avoiding unsecured websites.
Implementing these measures is a strong start toward bolstering online safety for seniors. However, it’s vital to maintain open communication with older adults to empower them to enjoy their online hobbies securely.
By combining these approaches and continually engaging in conversations about cybersecurity, family members and caregivers can help seniors navigate the digital world confidently and safely. “
Chasity Robinson Mwangi from Morningside Place
What safety measures do seniors take to protect their online security while enjoying internet activities or participating in online communities?
“Connection through the digital world has become an integral part of everyday life for people of all ages, including seniors. Among the fastest-growing segments of the population, this group is participating in more activities, from staying in touch with family and friends to online communities for education, health, and wellness.
There are several measures that are important for seniors to actively use to ensure the safety of their personal information online. The first is the use of strong, unique passwords for each of the online accounts. Password manager programs can assist in keeping track of the passwords. For specific accounts, two-step verification can be added as an additional protection of personal information. The process requires verification from a separate device, such as a cell phone or fingerprint ID, to ensure that the individual requesting access to the information is, in fact, them.
Another proactive step that seniors can take is the regular update of programs, operating systems, applications and anti-virus software. The updates are provided to address changes to reduce the risks of issues within the software programs themselves and ensure greater privacy and safety for the users.
All internet users are frequently reminded not to share personal information online. This is especially important for seniors to avoid possible scams and attempts to secure personal information that could severely impact their finances and well-being. Being mindful and watchful of overly attractive offers and unrealistic financial opportunities as possible scams is vital to steer clear of problems.
Vigilance and mindfulness when using the internet can ensure that seniors can enjoy the benefits of safe internet use.”
Fritzi Gros-Daillon, Director of Education from Age Safe America
How are seniors staying connected in an increasingly digital world?
“PCR’s real estate search portal, PrivateCommunities.com, helps seniors and retirees find the perfect lifestyle community where they enjoy in-person events and socialization with neighbors, but what about connecting and socializing from the comfort of their homes? We know seniors are active online and adapting to an increasingly digital world—92% of our audience uses the internet to start their new home search, according to our recent survey. From devices like simplified smartphones, basic tablets, and user-friendly computers to wearable health trackers and sharing apps, today’s seniors have easy access to communication tools, social media, and online resources to help them stay active and engaged. Older adults are becoming much more tech-savvy, joining platforms like Facebook or Instagram to connect with communities and groups sharing similar interests, using apps and websites to manage daily routines, playing casual games, puzzles, brain-training exercises, and more. The internet can be a powerful tool for enrichment and connection, and by approaching it with curiosity and care, older adults can unlock a world of possibilities.
Bob Borges from PrivateCommunities.com
How can older adults verify the legitimacy of websites before providing personal information or making online purchases?
“I recently authored a book to address a specific demographic, and it is called ‘Senior Cyber’. In October of this year, the FBI issued a warning of rising elder fraud crime rates citing a 350% increase in cryptocurrency-related investment scams attributed to older adults in 2022. My goal is to help educate and empower seniors so they can utilize the internet and embrace technology and not live in fear of cyber criminals and scammers. Online scams are rampant and older adults and seniors need to carefully look out for a few telltale signs indicating they might be going down the wrong path.
When browsing any website, it is important to carefully look at the URL address bar atop your browser window and verify it begins with ‘[https://’/]https://’. The most important letter there is the ’s,’ which indicates that the particular website address is secure and uses an encrypted connection. If the http does not end with an ’s’, do not proceed any further on that site.
How might engaging in hands-on activities or hobbies improve an older adult’s ability to surf the internet, engage in online learning, and acquire new skills?
“Activities like solving jigsaw puzzles, knitting, cross-stitching, assembling models, and other tasks that require manual dexterity can be very enriching for older adults. These kinds of tasks contribute to a set of transferable skills that can help them navigate the intricacies of the internet, confidently engage in online learning, and maybe even acquire new digital skills.
One benefit of hands-on hobbies is an improvement in fine motor skills and coordination, which can translate into improved control when using digital devices. Given age-related arthritis and even neuromuscular degeneration, regular exercise of the muscles and joints in the hands and arms can make it easier for older adults to navigate a mouse, keyboard, or touch screen and gain confidence using digital devices when surfing the Internet or taking online classes.
Another benefit has to do with the fact that manual dexterity tasks require focus, attention, and problem-solving skills. The cognitive stimulation involved can enhance overall cognitive function, potentially making it easier for older adults to grasp new concepts, follow online instructions, and navigate digital interfaces during online learning.
Finally, older adults get to practice patience and persistence, which manual dexterity tasks demand. These qualities can be valuable when learning new skills online, where challenges may arise. The resilience developed through manual activities can contribute to a positive attitude towards overcoming hurdles in online learning.”
How can older individuals identify and avoid phishing scams or fraudulent activities related to their online hobby interests?
“Identifying phishing emails and other online scams is far more difficult today than it was just a few years ago. Today’s sophisticated cybercriminals frequently craft social engineering attacks with far greater skill than their predecessors, who often sent messages laden with grammatical errors and spelling mistakes (although some of those mistakes were intentional). As such, it is critically important for people who wish to remain safe online to internalize that they are targets; people who believe that criminals want to breach their computers and phones simply act differently than people who don’t understand and internalize such a reality. They typically act with more healthy skepticism towards scams, click fewer problematic links, install fewer pieces of malware, and give away far less personal information to unauthorized parties. They understand that even a phone call that seems to be from their own child can be a scam – and, therefore, that any requests for money or information need to be verified by reaching out to the requestor via a previously known communication mechanism (such as making an outbound call to the child’s cellphone).
Because human attitude and approach are critical to the success of a security plan, if you are an employer, you may be able to achieve great improvements in your cybersecurity posture with even a single, short conversation that helps employees understand and internalize that they are active targets of dangerous criminals.”
Joseph Steinberg, CyberSecurity Expert Witness, Board Member, and Advisor
In what ways do virtual hobby groups or communities contribute to reducing social isolation for older adults who may face physical limitations?
“Virtual hobby groups and communities help alleviate social isolation among older adults dealing with physical limitations. The digital space offers ways to connect with other people who have the same interests and experiences. By participating in activities like online book clubs, crafting forums, or gaming communities, older adults can transcend physical barriers and entertain themselves. These virtual spaces empower individuals to participate at their own pace and comfort. Older adults can focus on their hobbies rather than their constraints.
Moreover, virtual hobby groups or communities help reduce the feeling of loneliness and contribute to improved mental well-being. This is especially beneficial for older adults who experience physical challenges.”
Molly George from Heritage Communities
What role can technology play in introducing older adults to new hobbies or connecting them with like-minded individuals who share similar interests?
“Online communities and platforms like Reddit, Facebook Groups and specialized forums that cater to a wide range of interests which allow older adults to discuss hobbies, share experiences and seek advice from others with similar interests. Websites like Coursera, Udemy, and even YouTube offer seniors a variety of online classes and tutorials that allow them to learn new hobbies at their own pace – some even using algorithms to match individuals based on their interests, enhancing their chances of forming meaningful connections with like-minded people.
One of the latest technologies accessible to seniors, ElliQ is an AI companion that helps reduce social isolation and loneliness by having conversations with older adults to learn about their interests – with content ranging from cooking lessons and GetSetUp classes to social activities like Bingo. With personalization, behavioral AI and new generative and linguistic capabilities, ElliQ can understand and classify users’ areas of interest, favorite activities, daily routines, as well as past and present social connections. With that, recommendations and suggestions can be made at appropriate moments (based on users’ context and availability), presented effectively in a personal manner, and – as applicable – joined with the social connectedness available through digital connections (video events, multi-user games) or local community events in the “real” world.”
How can incorporating online hobbies enhance the quality of life for seniors in various living arrangements, from independent living to assisted care?
“In the digital age, incorporating online hobbies can significantly enhance the quality of life for seniors across diverse living arrangements, ranging from independent living to assisted care. Embracing online hobbies empowers seniors by fostering mental stimulation, social connections, and a sense of purpose.
Firstly, engaging in online hobbies provides seniors with a wealth of intellectual stimuli, from virtual book clubs to online courses. This mental engagement promotes cognitive health, keeping the mind active and agile, which is crucial for maintaining overall well-being.
Secondly, the internet facilitates social connectivity, enabling seniors to connect with friends, family, and like-minded individuals. Video calls, social media, and online forums create avenues for communication, reducing feelings of isolation often associated with aging. This is particularly beneficial for those in assisted care facilities, where physical mobility may be limited.
Furthermore, online hobbies offer a sense of purpose and accomplishment. Seniors can explore new interests, share experiences, and contribute to online communities. Whether it’s through writing blogs, participating in virtual volunteer activities, or learning a new skill, seniors can find fulfillment and a renewed sense of purpose.
In conclusion, incorporating online hobbies into the lives of seniors, regardless of their living arrangements, enriches their quality of life by promoting mental well-being, fostering social connections, and providing avenues for personal growth and contribution. Embracing technology opens doors to a vibrant and fulfilling lifestyle, ensuring that seniors continue to lead meaningful lives in the digital era.”
Shahid Imran from Build Senior Living/Hampton Manor Premier Assisted Living
What tips do you have for older adults in discovering hobbies that provide motivation and a sense of reward?
“Hobbies are a critical part of aging gracefully. As they say, ‘if you don’t use it, you lose it!’ It’s so important for us to keep our minds and bodies active as we age and continue with hobbies that are appropriate for our level of interaction. Activities and hobbies can provide a sense of reward and motivation, especially when trying new things! Joining social groups can be an excellent way to connect with like-minded people who have similar interests and want to socialize at your needed level. Embracing technology can also be an important consideration as we age; there are many new tools and techniques to be learned on tablets and in online communities. Outdoor activities are vital to our health as human beings and even more important as we age. The sun, nature, walks outside, birdwatching, and gardening are rejuvenating and connecting in a way that nothing else is. Group activities can bring comradery and new friendships – whether it be through games or physical activities. These are fulfilling and will help seniors keep a positive mindset and give them something important to live for.
Overall we cannot underestimate the importance of hobbies at any age but specifically in our later years. They can keep us fresh-minded, young at heart, and social, not to mention motivated to see another day!”
Isabelle Guarino from RAL National Association
What online activities can you recommend for older adults to build new skills?
“Online activities are great for older adults to build new skills and stay mentally sharp while having fun. Luckily, there are different activities for different interests:
- Online bridge: This game is excellent for working on your strategic thinking skills and to socialize with fellow enthusiasts from around the world
- Solitaire: Many platforms are offering solitaire games for free. Older adults can boost their problem-solving and focus skills with this game. Choose platforms with varying difficulty levels to gradually challenge yourself.
- Sudoku: These puzzles are fun brain games to enhance logical reasoning.
- Words with friends: Older adults can play with friends or make new connections through the game’s social feature. It also helps seniors to enhance word recognition.
- Wordle: Challenge your word-guessing skills with online Wordle games.
- Book clubs: Join online book clubs or discussion forums to explore new literary works. This activity also helps to stimulate the mind through thoughtful discussions.
- Memory games: Explore memory-boosting games that challenge and improve cognitive functions. Platforms like Lumosity offer a variety of brain-training exercises.
- Art and creativity: Experiment with online art classes or digital drawing platforms.
Whether it’s card games, puzzles, or learning something entirely new, the Internet offers many opportunities for skill-building, staying mentally sharp, and enjoyment.”
Mark Healy from Senior Care Authority
Can you recommend specific online activities or games that focus on fine motor skills and are enjoyable for older individuals?
“Online activities such as video games are a great way to work on fine motor skills as they increase visual motor skills and hand-eye control, which increases fine motor coordination. Video games also work on precision and accuracy, which is needed for activities such as filling medication boxes and writing tasks. Other games that specifically work on fine motor include puzzles (choose smaller pieces to make it harder!) and board games such as checkers, chess, Sorry, Yahtzee, Jenga, BananaGrams, Sour Apples, or Chinese checkers. Check out these other fine motor activities.”
Mandy Chamberlain MOTR/L Occupational therapist, founder OTflourish.com
What are some enjoyable and accessible hobbies that older adults can explore to enhance their overall well-being?
“There are many enjoyable, accessible hobbies fitting for older adults. See how you might discover your next passion:
- Take an interest class. Whether you’ve always loved a hobby like painting or want to try something new, use Google to find classes near you. Signing up for a class can help you find people with similar interests, keep your mind active, have fun, and learn something new!
- Volunteer. Even if you already volunteer, there are always more opportunities. Buy a meal for a local unhoused person. Go to the grocery store with only the local Food Bank in mind. Use Google to find many volunteer opportunities near you.
- Read a book that you disagree with. Pop your filter bubble! Go to the books section in the weekend newspaper of a paper you don’t usually read and see what books they’re reading. Pick one and give it 100 pages.
- Create a new social media profile. Ever Snapchatted with your grandkids? Do you have a TikTok account? Thousands of seniors are on TikTok, and some of them are very popular! Jenny Krupa, aka J-Dog, is just one, with nearly 2 million followers!
It’s most important to keep an open mind. All of the above are actually much easier to do if you live in a retirement home where meals and housework are taken care of and there’s a community of peers to enjoy all of these with. Classes and learning opportunities are often part of the activity schedule. Learn more at ComfortLife.ca.”
Jim Huinink from Comfort Life
Beat the Winter Blues: Creative Indoor Activities for Older Adults
“Freezing temperatures and shorter days can be challenging to stay active and motivated during winter. But, with some creativity, there are plenty of ways for older adults to stay active during winter.
Here are some suggestions:
- Knitting or Crocheting: A relaxing activity that helps in improving fine motor skills and concentration.
- Puzzle Building: A great way to keep the mind active.
- Book Clubs: An online book club can offer some social interaction.
- Indoor Gardening: A small indoor garden can bring a bit of nature inside.
- Cooking or Baking: New recipes can be fun and a great way to share delicious treats.
- Painting or Drawing: Painting, drawing, or coloring can be therapeutic.
- Bird Watching: Backyard bird watching can be an enjoyable and calming activity.
- Crafting: Scrapbooking, making jewelry or DIY home decor projects can be fun.
- Aquarium or Terrarium: Caring for an aquarium or terrarium can be serene and satisfying.
- Online Courses and Lectures: Many universities offer online courses on a wide range of topics.
These hobbies not only keep older adults engaged during the colder months but also contribute to their physical and mental health.”
Esther C. Kane, C.D.S. Retired Occupational Therapist, Senior Safety Advice
In what ways can social media enhance the sharing and discovery of hobbies among older adults, creating a dynamic and interactive online experience?
I believe that social media is a new way of learning for older adults. Back in the day, we read magazines and books and watched TV to know the trends and give us ideas. But now that social media has hit the world, this is the wave of the future. I’ve written an entire article about the advantages of the internet and social media for older women.
As we retire, we now have time to learn and explore hobbies that have been on the back burner. Social media allows us to meet others who have the same interests and not only can we learn from them, but we can connect with them and even meet them if they live close. That kind of experience was never possible back in the older days with TV or magazines. I know for myself that when I learned to knit, I read pamphlets and couldn’t imagine some of the techniques. But now, with videos as part of social media, you can see the actions happening, which is truly advantageous. Since most of us are visual learners, you just can’t go wrong with videos.
As a fashion blogger, I also think older women can benefit from social channels because it’s possible to see women our age, size, and shape wearing fashionable items. When everything was in the magazines, it was predominantly tall, thin models, which can make it hard to imagine the clothing on our bodies.
Jodie Filogomo, Cosmetic Dentist turned Fashionista at Jodie’s Touch of Style, where I showcase that it’s never too late to look great.
How do hobbies contribute to mental and emotional health for older adults, and are there specific activities that are particularly beneficial?
“For many older adults, hobbies are an important part of a fulfilling life. They give a sense of purpose and accomplishment and provide opportunities for social connection. The key is to find hobbies that suit the person’s personal interests and preferences.
Hobbies also provide a sense of routine and structure to daily life. Keeping a regular schedule around enjoyable activities can create a sense of stability.
Achieving goals or mastering new skills through hobbies also boosts self-esteem and confidence, giving a positive sense of self-worth. Plus, learning new things or overcoming challenges in a hobby can also translate into improved coping skills in other areas of life.
Social hobbies, like joining clubs, classes, or group sports, help create meaningful connections, reduce loneliness, and improve emotional health. Plus, any type of fun and entertaining activities bring joy and reduce stress.
Hobbies involving mental stimulation, like puzzles, games, or learning new skills, keep the mind active and support cognitive health. Physical activities, like walking, dancing, sports, or gardening, improve fitness and boost overall health and well-being.
Expressing oneself through creative hobbies like art, writing, or music can be therapeutic and emotionally fulfilling. Hobbies that encourage mindfulness, like meditation or yoga, can promote relaxation and help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.”
Connie Chow, Founder, DailyCaring.com
Activities for Homebound Seniors
“For those of us who are very active and typically not homebodies, staying home can become monotonous and depressing. The advances in modern technology permit us to remain home and stay involved, active, and social. Here are some thoughts to help you remain socially safe:
Communicate with your computer or iPad. You can see and speak with your loved ones, doctors, and other important contacts using Zoom, Facetime, Skype, Google Meet, Whatsapp, or ooVoo. You can also communicate your thoughts and read other people’s thoughts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Quora, and YouTube. Grandpad is an iPad app that has become popular, providing fun for the whole family. This intuitive technology allows everyone, from kids to older adults, to tap a picture to make a voice or video call, send and receive emails, view family photos and videos, and send photos. You can also check out the weather for any location, play your favorite music, and has fun with single and multiplayer games. You can go to grandpad.net to view it.
Staying healthy at home can be tricky. If you can’t get out of the house, walk around the dining room table as many times as possible. Lift cans of soup to keep your muscle tone and increase the number of cans in bags as you get stronger. Dancing, stretching, and doing chair exercises will help you stay fit. The best form of exercise is cleaning and organizing your home! Vacuuming, dusting, and washing can stimulate your heart and muscles.
Keeping your mind active by playing cards, reading, playing trivia games, checkers, chess, electronic skill games, or any other game that provokes thought will help. You can play Scrabble and other games on your smartphone or tablet with loved ones across the world.
If you can no longer stay home safely or happily, then it may be time to consider moving to a senior community. Independent or assisted living communities offer apartments that are safe and designed with purpose. They include emergency pull cords, mini kitchens, housekeeping, laundry service is available, meals, and activities. There’s always something to do, and the communities are the safest place to live for our vulnerable seniors.”
Elderwerks does not receive any compensation for mentions of any product or website.
Jennifer Prell from Elderworks
Can you share creative ideas for virtual travel experiences that cater specifically to the interests and preferences of older adults?
“Here is what we do to prepare for our travels and to entertain ourselves while we’re anticipating our next trip.
Read books. Fiction as well as non-fiction. Particularly books which are set in the country we’re visiting. For example, I just read In the Country of Others by Leila Slimani before a trip to Morocco and The Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan before a trip to Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. We also read travel blogs we relate to for information on our destinations. Some of our favorites are Ottsworld, The Planet D, and Wandering Earl.
There are plenty of videos on the internet about destinations. We particularly like those produced by Context Travel and Viking River Cruises.
We always be sure to learn at least a little of the language of the place we’re going. We use Duolingo, but there are lots of similar apps to become comfortable with the niceties, at least, e.g., please, thank you, good morning, how much. These basic words should help you prepare.”
Tom Bartel from Travel Past 50
What are some tips for older adults to acquire new skills or engage in online hobbies from the comfort of their homes?
“Here are some tips for older adults geared towards discovering things online.
- Don’t shy away from what you don’t know. Explore the unknown
- No harm in trying new skills
- YouTube has a lot of tutorial videos to teach people new skills
- Make a list of your interests and see how you can explore them in new ways online through Google or youtube
- Join a ‘how-to’ course locally to learn new computer skills, like taking an iPad class
- www.amica.ca/webinars offers a wide variety of interesting webinars that are free for everyone to access and enjoy.”
Rebecca Sim from Amica Senior Lifestyles
What are some ideas for collaborative online activities that family members and elderly adults can participate in together?
“Ten top-notch ideas for some fun & collaborative online activities that family members and elderly adults can participate in together are as follows:
1) Presented by Youtube: Senior seated chair exercises to promote healthy circulation and flexibility for all, i.e.: Search for Senior Seated Exercises on YouTube
2) Easy memory games for those concerned about memory loss (brain teaser games and dexterity games), i.e.: Free brain games for seniors
3) Virtual Reality Experiences where families can travel to different parts of the world
4) Online board games such as Scrabble and crossword puzzle challenges where family members can also be located in different locations or states
5) Online culinary events such as creating your own charcuterie boards and cooking events (some have additional fees $)
6) Virtual art programs for seniors, i.e.: Youtube: Art Lesson: Visual Perspective for Seniors. Making Your Drawing Look Real
7) Scrolling through online family photos through frameo or other various social media avenues, i.e.: frameo.net,
8) Facetiming with loved ones
9) Spirituality – online religious masses that family members can attend together.
10) Mindfulness Meditation classes, i.e. insighttimer (audio only)
The above mentioned ideas are provided as examples only to the limitless possibilities today. Now, let’s get started by combining family members and these wonderful activities to make many lasting magical memories for all!”
Crystal Morvant from Griswold Home Care
Setting up home internet services for online hobbies
With many aspects of our daily lives relying on Digital engagement and internet access, from work to entertainment and even staying connected with loved ones, setting up a stable home internet connection to enjoy your digital hobbies to the fullest is essential.
Setting up a home internet connection can seem overwhelming for seniors who may not be as familiar with technology. That’s where specialists can step in to provide valuable assistance. These specialists can help seniors choose the right internet service provider and plan for their needs. They can also set up everything or guide them through installing and configuring routers and other necessary equipment.
Benefits of a stable Internet connection
Having a stable and reliable Internet connection offers additional advantages for seniors besides practicing their online hobbies.
- Stay connected with family and friends who may live far away
- Video calls, social media, and email become easily accessible, reducing feelings of isolation
- Stream movies and TV shows, listen to music, explore virtual museums, or even take online classes to learn new skills or pursue hobbies
From virtual book clubs to digital art classes, online activities provide seniors with new hobbies that they can explore from the comfort of their homes. With the correct home internet setup, seniors can connect with friends and families, attend virtual meetings, create connections, and stay mentally active.